ROBERT PALMER Biography - Musicians


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Name: Robert Palmer                                                                     
Birth name: Robert Allen Palmer                                                         
Born: 19 January 1949 Scarborough, Yorkshire, England                                   
Died: 26 September 2003 Paris, France                                                   
Robert Allen Palmer (19 January 1949 - 26 September 2003), born in Batley,               
Yorkshire, was an English singer-songwriter. He was known for his soulful voice         
and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock,       
pop and blues.                                                                           
The son of a British serviceman stationed in Malta, Palmer moved with his family         
to Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1959. Influenced as a child by blues, soul, and             
jazz music on American Forces Radio, Robert Palmer joined his first band, The           
Mandrakes, at the age of 15 while still at Scarborough Boys' High School. His           
first major break came with the departure of singer Jess Roden from the band The         
Alan Bown Set in 1969, after which Palmer was invited to London to sing on their         
single "Gypsy Girl". The vocals for the album The Alan Bown!, originally                 
recorded by Roden (and released in the US that way), were re-recorded by Palmer         
after the success of the single.                                                         
In 1970, Palmer joined the 12-piece jazz-rock fusion band Dada, which featured           
singer Elkie Brooks. The band lasted a year, after which Brooks and Palmer               
formed the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful rhythm and blues           
group, Vinegar Joe; Palmer sang and played rhythm guitar. Signed to the Island           
Records label, they released three albums: Vinegar Joe (1972), Rock 'n' Roll             
Gypsies (1972), and Six Star General (1973).                                             
On the basis of his youthful looks, strong stage presence, and soulful voice,           
Island Records signed Palmer to a solo deal. His first solo album Sneakin' Sally         
Through the Alley recorded in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1974, was heavily               
influenced by the music of Little Feat and the funk fusion of The Meters who             
acted as backing band along with producer/guitarist Lowell George of Little Feat.       
His first single was a cover of Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes." Although                 
moderately successful in the UK, both the album and single reached the Top 100           
in the US. Notably, "Sailin' Shoes" (the album's first track), Palmer's own "Hey         
Julia" and the Allen Toussaint-penned title track carry virtually the same               
rhythm, and are packaged on the CD as a "trilogy" without a pause between them.         
Subsequently relocating from London to New York City with his wife, Palmer               
released Pressure Drop in 1975 (featuring famed Motown bassist James Jamerson).         
An album infused with his interests in reggae and rock music, it was noted for           
its cover art of a nude girl on a balcony rather than any commercially                   
successful songs. (The lead single "Give Me An Inch" did win critical plaudits           
for Palmer's note-perfect delivery and its chord changes, which surprised George         
during the recording process.) He toured with Little Feat to promote that album.         
However, with the failure of the follow-up Some People Can Do What They Like ,           
Palmer decided to move to the Bahamas; after that, his "expatriate lifestyle"           
was likely to receive more coverage than his music in British newspapers.               
In 1978, he released Double Fun, a collection of Caribbean-influenced rock,             
including a down-tempo and syncopated cover of "You Really Got Me". The album           
reached the Top 50 on the US Billboard charts and scored a Top 20 single with           
the Andy Fraser-penned "Every Kinda People". With its blend of Caribbean steel           
pan, violins and moving lyrics, "Every Kinda People". has become one of Palmer's         
best-loved songs, covered multiple times by other artists (including Chaka Demus         
and Pliers, Randy Crawford and Amy Grant) and cited by music fans and spiritual         
groups for its positive message.                                                         
Palmer's next album was an artistic departure, concentrating on a rockier               
direction. 1979's Secrets produced his second Top 20 single with Moon Martin's "Bad     
Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)", which like "Every Kinda People" became one         
of his signature tunes.                                                                 
The 1980s saw Palmer find an increasing amount of commercial success. The album         
Clues, produced by Palmer and featuring Chris Frantz and Gary Numan, generated           
hits on both sides of the Atlantic, first with the radio-friendly single "Johnny         
and Mary" and then "Looking for Clues". Catchy music videos matching the synth           
pop stylings of New Wave gave him much needed exposure to a younger audience.           
The success was repeated with the 1982 EP release of Some Guys Have All the Luck.       
1983 saw Palmer blend techno beats, early sampling and more of the island music         
of his adopted Bahamas (including steel pan) into the adventurous album Pride.           
Though the album wasn't the smash Clues was, it did feature standout tracks in           
the title song and Palmer's cover of The System's "You Are In My System", with           
The System's David Frank contributing keyboard tracks to the latter song.               
"You Are In My System" was an example of Palmer's passion for R&B covers. He             
jammed the song onto the Pride album after the other tracks were finished.               
Hearing the track in a Paris club, Palmer rushed back to his Bahamas hometown,           
where the reconvened band (co-composer Frank included) put together the number.         
Esquire magazine recounted the tale of the last-minute addition later that year.         
Palmer did the same in liner notes for his 1992 Addictions Volume 2 CD, which           
included his re-voiced version of "You Are In My System."                               
1985 was a milestone year for Palmer. After Duran Duran went on hiatus, their           
guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined renowned session drummer           
and former Chic member Tony Thompson and Palmer to form the band Power Station.         
Their eponymous album, recorded mostly at the New York studio for which the band         
was named, reached the Top 20 in the UK and the US and spawned two hit singles           
with "Some Like It Hot" and a cover of the T. Rex song "Get It On". Palmer               
performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live. The           
band toured, and even played Live Aid, with singer Michael Des Barres after             
Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the studio to further his           
newly revitalized solo career. It proved to be a good choice for Palmer.